Visa Sanctions Against Multiple Countries Pursuant to Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
Repatriation of Noncitizens Subject to Final Orders of Removal
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) works timely to remove undocumented noncitizens from the United States once they are subject to a final order of removal.
The U.S. Government requests that foreign governments take appropriate steps to confirm the citizenship of migrants suspected to be their nationals, including by conducting interviews where necessary; the timely issuance of travel documents, where appropriate; and accepting the physical return of their nationals by scheduled commercial flights or, where necessary, special charter flights. Any lack of cooperation from the nation of origin delays, and in many cases, inhibits the removal process. Such uncooperative countries are also known as recalcitrant.
Factors that could lead to a country being classified as recalcitrant include hindering ICE’s removal efforts by refusing to allow charter removal flights into the country, and denials or delays in issuing travel documents, such as passports.
Zadvydas v. Davis
The failure of foreign governments to accept the return of their nationals has resulted in unnecessary detention costs and has required the release of dangerous criminal noncitizens into the general population. Uncooperative countries significantly exacerbate the challenges presented to ICE by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001).
- After Zadvydas, with narrow exceptions, noncitizens with final orders of removal, including noncitizens determined to pose a threat to the community or considered a flight risk, may not be detained beyond a presumptively reasonable period of 6 months if there is no “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.”
- Because of delays in travel document issuance or refusals by foreign governments to issue travel documents for the repatriation of their nationals, ICE has been legally required to release thousands of noncitizens, including those with serious criminal convictions.
Pursuant to authority under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Secretary of Homeland Security previously notified the Secretary of State that multiple governments have denied or unreasonably delayed accepting their nationals ordered removed from the United States. As a result, the Secretary of State has ordered consular officers in these countries to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants, determined on a country-by-country basis. These sanctions remained or will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies the Secretary of State that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.
Visa sanctions have been previously invoked against the following countries: Guyana in 2001, The Gambia in 2016, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in 2017, Burma and Laos in 2018, Cuba, Ghana and Pakistan in 2019, Burundi, China, and Ethiopia in 2020. Visa sanctions have since been lifted against Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Guinea, The Gambia, and reduced visa sanctions for Laos and Sierra Leone.